Tagged: columbus

Andrew, Clinical Psychologist, Columbus, Ohio

photo by Kevin  Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo  by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Andrew, in his own words: “My earliest LGBT-related memory is a not-so-flattering depiction of a lesbian couple on the Sally Jesse Raphael Show in the early- or mid-Eighties. I was probably 7 or so and remember wondering why the members of the audience seemed so hostile and angry toward the women. There wasn’t anything particularly remarkable in how the women looked or behaved during the segment. I had no real concept of what “lesbian” meant at the time and it wasn’t until college and moving away from my small-town midwestern roots that I first met openly gay and lesbian men and women. Gayness wasn’t really on my radar or the radar of my hometown through most of my childhood and adolescence. Images of LGBT persons on television or in movies were few and far-between, LGBT civil rights were not the mainstream political issue they are today, and amazingly (and fortunately) I don’t recall anti-gay slurs being thrown around in the schoolyard with any regularity toward me or anyone else. To me, and perhaps to my hometown contemporaries, the idea of same-sex attraction seemed so foreign, so “other” and “alien” that it wasn’t possible that I or anyone I knew could really be gay. Despite the feelings I was having to the contrary, it just didn’t compute! Weren’t gay people psychologically disturbed? Immoral? Or at the minimum inappropriately flamboyant in their displays of sexuality? While here I was… so quiet and “normal!”

So… boring! So I guess some of the experiences that had the most impact on me as I began negotiating the paths of self-acceptance and coming out were when I had the opportunity to meet LGBT persons whom I viewed as “normal” and “boring.” Persons who had friends and long-term relationships and professional careers. These individuals had such an impact on me because they helped me see that all of those assumptions and stereotypes I had internalized growing up were false. I could be who I am and be gay because being gay wouldn’t sentence me to some ambiguously disastrous future. It wouldn’t automatically change all of the other aspects of myself that were important to me. Being gay could be a part of my identity and I would not have to reject myself for that part or dramatically alter other parts to make it all fit the narrative I had been fed all those years. In short, I could begin to embrace myself completely for who I was and take the first steps down the long road of self-acceptance.”

Scot, Managing Director/Teacher, Columbus, Ohio

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong

Scot, in his own words: “I came out to myself long before I came out to anyone else. I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t feel a sense of “otherness” because of who I was attracted to, but it took me a very long time to be honest with myself and those around me. The first gay person I remember meeting was my high school girlfriend’s mom, and I was afraid to meet her because she might instantly know I was gay. Conversely, I was also excited because I had never before, to my knowledge, met another gay person. I remember that she seemed so normal and comfortable in her own skin, and I also remember wanting that feeling more than anything in the whole world.

The growth of a visible gay culture made it easier to accept my “gayness.” A year before I came out to my friends and family, Ellen Degeneres came out, and there suddenly seemed to be gay people everywhere! It was like a queer Renaissance! By the time I went away to college, TV shows like Will & Grace were popular and the media was finally giving sympathetic attention to hate crimes committed against gay people such as Matthew Shepherd. When I eventually stepped out of the closet in 1998, I became obsessed with gay culture, wanting to learn and consume as much as I could. I joined as many LGBT groups as I could (including one called The Swarm of Dykes) took every single LGBT-focused course that Ohio University offered, and wrote several letters to the school newspaper advocating for gay rights.

The biggest challenge I faced when coming out was gaining the love and acceptance of my mom and my brother. They both had a very typical reaction – shocked, angry, and confused. It took a long time for them to come around, but there’s no awkwardness about it anymore in my family. My sisters, who are 14 years younger than me, grew up knowing I was gay, and both have been involved in Gay-Straight Alliances in high school and college.

Along the way, I’ve also struggled with learning how to build that most significant relationship: the one I have with myself. I’d love the opportunity to travel back in time and warn myself that, unless I focus first on fostering a healthy level of love and respect inwardly, I’m going to go through a lot of heartbreak (and that I’m also going to cause some). I’d tell myself to love me no matter what.

Over time, being gay has become less political to me, and more about how I live my everyday life. I don’t necessarily need to shout that I’m gay from the top of any roofs (although I wouldn’t mind doing that), but I believe that I can influence change on a more personal level. I became a teacher for a very grandiose reason: to change the world. I believe that I do that by teaching my students about our interconnectedness as humans and the importance of valuing the differences of others, instead of fearing them.

My personal belief system can be boiled down to my fascination with the character of Superman and his higher sense of purpose. He may be god-like and nearly invincible, but he inspires me because of his commitment to protect and fight for those who can’t defend themselves. To some people, he represents that which is unattainable, always floating high above the earth and looking down at us, but they’re missing the point. To me, he represents something more grounded and simple: our capacity to love and care for one another unconditionally. This will always be my hope for humanity, and it will always be the reason that I continue to teach my students to oppose those who seek to oppress others or who take advantage of those who cannot defend themselves.”

Kelvin, Nascent Lover, Columbus, Ohio

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong

Kelvin, in his own words: “When I look at my coming out process I have to honestly say I’m blessed to have the circle of love that I have. I came out to my siblings when I was 19. Both my Mommy and Mom (foster mom) went through the discovery of my sexual identity with me. Although it wasn’t easy for Mom and I it certainly made our relationship stronger. When I told my little brother 4 years younger than me he was convinced that I was joking with him. By the end of our conversation he told me that he now had a different perspective on what it meant to be gay since now he knew he had a gay brother. The clown in the bunch, my baby sister, had my favorite reaction. She looked me dead in the face and said “ok…and? you want a cookie or something?!” You can’t help but to love that girl! She always keeps the bunch laughing. My big sister seemed so unfazed. As far as she was concerned people were coming out the closet left and right. I was no different. I surprisingly never personally came out to my baby brother, but I’m sure by now he’s figured things out! I was afraid that living in my truth would tear me from the bond I shared with my siblings, but instead it verified the strength of our love for one another.

Once I came out to my siblings I thought my work was done. I would soon realize that if I wanted to live a life equal to that of my siblings then I would have to give voices to the injustices suffered by the lgbt community. The coming out process is never finished only started! After a Day of Silence event held at Ohio University I came out on facebook. Then came one of my first major challenges, my father’s side of the family. Two awkard phone calls were quickly followed by the fear that I may have been outed to my father. Thus setting the stage for me to come out to him months later. It didn’t go well. It was the first time I had really received negative reaction to my coming out and the topic quickly became the elephant in the room when ever I was around my father’s side of the family. Through out that whole process with my father’s side of the family not once did anyone say to me “I don’t care that your gay I still love you” not even my own father. Sadly I think it’s the underlying reason that with them I stay so distant.

Needless to say the negative reaction pushed me even harder to be vocal about lgbt issues. This passion led me to become a student leader. I co-founded a chapter of a lgbt organization for students of color called SHADES at the largest public university in the country The Ohio State University. Hands down the best thing I’ve done yet with my life as the chapter is still standing. Through my experience I learned not only how to find my voice as a leader but also as a black gay man. That in it’s self has it’s own special challenges, especially when it comes to dating. One big lesson I quickly learned is acceptance in difference. How could I possibly expect someone to accept my difference if I couldn’t accept theirs? I also learned the understanding of processes. I had to go through a process of accepting my sexual identity and I must afford others that same right to process. In cooperating with others it’s important to agree to disagree because not everyone will be on your exact page all the time. This does not mean their not in the same chapter! In closing I would like to give one of my biggest and currently practiced lessons, knowing when to sit down. There will always be something to shout about, something to get angry about, something to cry over. All of this can be very draining and it’s not your job to take on the world. Stay in tuned to your spirit and know when it’s your time to take a break from it all and just do you. I promise you when ever your ready there will be so many issues to give your voice to upon your return! “